Wed, Jul 12, 2006 - Page 3 News List

MOFA expresses regret over squabble

By Chang Yun-ping and Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed regret yesterday over a squabble that occurred between Taipei City councilors and the nation's diplomatic staff in Japan, with the councilors accusing the nation's diplomatic representatives of failing to arrange customs clearance for them.

A total of five city councilors, including the New Party's Lee Ching-yuan (李慶元) and the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) Chen Yu-mei (陳玉梅) and Chen Yung-te (陳永德), are currently traveling in Japan with Taipei Mayor and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

The councilors created a scene at Tokyo International Airport, shouting at the diplomatic staff for failing to arrange courtesy customs clearance for them.

Ministry Spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said yesterday that the Japanese government only provided diplomatic customs clearance to Ma, KMT spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文), four legislators and Ma's personal bodyguards.

Other personnel had to go through normal customs channels.

Lu said that according to Japanese protocol, only legislators and officials above the rank of head of a department are granted courtesy clearance at immigration points.

"We regret that the squabble occurred. I am sure that after the councilors learned of the Japanese government's regulations, they understood [what had happened]," Lu said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) yesterday urged Ma to apologize for KMT city councilors' "impoliteness," adding that the councilors had damaged the nation's image.

Tsai said the city councilors should be discreet in their words and actions when overseas and accused them of being "arrogant, impolite and childish" for shouting and causing a disturbance in a foreign airport, just because they felt they had not received the reception they "deserved."

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